Boo of Many Colors

Our cat Boo rests on our bed on July 26, 2022. Original: _Z723673.NEF

Boo keeping me company in the bedroom in July of 2021 when I was quarantined courtesy of the pandemic. He’s been glommed all over me this winter and is curled up on my legs at the moment but I suspect he’ll not be quite so attached as the warmer weather returns.

Desert Canines

Our dog bear stands on a cloudy day in McDowell Sonoran Preserve on February 3, 2023. Original: _Z723197.NEF

On Friday I wasn’t able to get my work done as far away computers weren’t working, by late afternoon I gave up and took Bear for a walk in the desert instead. Earlier on a snack break I heard howling in the distance so when he started sniffing the trail so hard I thought a pizza or a pot roast must be walking up ahead of us, I had a clue as to the real source of his interest. He was so focused on their scent I saw them before he did, I pointed his head directly at the most easily visible coyote but he didn’t pick it up until it moved slightly. Then he was transfixed watching the three of them saunter across the desert, cross the trail, and head down a game trail.

He didn’t want to move for a while, I like to believe he was reflecting on the wonder of it all but I suspect he was just hoping they’d be back. When he was finally ready to resume our walk I took him back down to where they had crossed the trail, if I hadn’t had a good hold on his leash the coyote pack might have gained a new member.

I was thankful they each judged each other not to be a threat, he far outweighs them but he stayed quiet and relaxed and once they sized him up they went about business as normal. We resumed our now familiar loop and towards the end with sunset approaching on this cloudy and comfortable day, I stopped him for this picture. Which I realized later is almost identical to one I posted in December when we first discovered this trail.

The Continuing Education of the Great & Mighty Bear

Our dog Bear at The Amphitheater in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona on January 22, 2023. Original: _Z722950.NEF

Since he’s been doing so well in the less crowded part of the preserve near our house, I’ve been taking Bear onto some more popular trails while still avoiding the congested areas where I know a number of other dogs might be present. On this occasion we started off near my favorite saguaro, The Green Elephant, on the Latigo Trail then went up to the Vaquero Trail to visit Witch Hazel, then continued up to where I took this picture at The Amphitheater (its actual name and unlike the others not just a name I made up to help me navigate to my favorite places in the park). At this point I knew he was ready for a water and snack break so I got out his water bowl and a bag of baby carrots. It makes me laugh as he eagerly gobbles them down as I can hear Ellie shouting down from heaven, “No Bear! Carrots are vegetables! Make him give you real treats!”

The Return of White Whisker

Our cat Trixie relaxes on the couch on December 10, 2022. Original: _Z721861.NEF

As a kitten in addition to her normal allotment of whiskers Trixie had three thick white ones. Once they fell out they never grew back, at least not until recently when one made its bold return. It fell out a few days back and so far its siblings have stayed dormant, so she’s back to looking like her normal self. This picture is from December when White Whisker was in full force.


A great horned owl perches on a granite boulder covered in bird droppings in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona on December 30, 2022. Original: _CAM6414.ARW

While walking Bear I noticed a large mural painted across a boulder in the desert and wondered who the artist was. While I don’t usually bring the telephoto zoom on dog walks, I had it on this occasion and there’s a nice spot on the trail here to stop for a snack break. As Bear lapped up his water I trained the lens on the rocks and was shocked to see the artist-in-residence was in residence! Bear isn’t much of a birder, especially not when they’re this far off, he’s more fond of mammals. There are lots of jackrabbits here, when he sees one his eyes light up as if to say “Giant rabbit!”, which isn’t quite true but I’m not going to split hares with the pup.

I Didn’t Even Make It A Day

A close-up of our cat Trixie looking out from a cat bed on October 9, 2022. Original: _Z727176.NEF

New Year’s Day arrived with a steady and gentle rain, Bear and I took advantage with a long walk in the neighborhood we had all to ourselves. It almost felt like Portland save for the saguaros standing in the mist. Trixie slept in my lap most of the day, when daylight fell the winds picked up and she hopped off my lap and hid under the blanket beside me. She disappeared when a thunderstorm arrived with the night so I went into the bedroom to check on her, bending down to kiss the tiny lump under the covers on my side of the bed, thanked with a quiet squeak. When the storm passed she returned to my lap but I was chagrined my promise there would be no thunder until July didn’t survive even a day into the new year.

A Bear in the Desert

Our dog Bear stands beside the trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona on December 26, 2022. Original: _Z722100.NEF

There are lots of mammals in our desert but you actually had a chance of seeing a Bear on the trails the past few days as I’ve been taking the pup into the section of the preserve closest to our house. I want to get him more exposure to hikers and especially cyclists than we typically get in the neighborhood so this is a good opportunity as there aren’t nearly as many people as the other parts of the park. His on-leash behavior still needs some work but he is miles better than he was when we adopted him, I would have never attempted this back then both because of his behavior and because he was overweight and not used to long walks.

His weight is looking good these days and he’s a champ on the trails, so naturally leading me down the path that I think the mix part of this black lab mix must have made for a good sled dog. I found the collapsible water bowl we got for Ellie so we take frequent water breaks as though it isn’t hot, it certainly is dry.

Today when I had him step off trail and stay beside me to let a cyclist go past, I stayed for a moment as I could hear another cyclist coming. As he passed and saw how still Bear was, he said “What a great dog!” and while I didn’t look at the pup, I felt some serious side-eye as I’ve only ever said he’s a good boy.

I haven’t been out for any photography this week but what a joy it is to spend time with him in this beautiful place.

The Road Closed, A Path Opens

A digger sits on a dirt road that is closed off in Scottsdale, Arizona on December 9, 2022. Original: _ZFC4265.NEF

I’ve been taking advantage of the cooler weather and Bear’s improving on-leash behavior to take the pup on longer walks, and as with Ellie in Portland I bring a camera along so I can take snapshots of the neighborhood when the mood strikes. I took this picture of Arizona’s favorite pastime, digging up the desert, on a road we hadn’t been down before, near where we turn around and start heading home.

It isn’t meant to be a depressing picture, after all our neighborhood would have been pristine desert several decades ago, and when we moved here I assumed all private land would turn into subdivisions in short order. The hopeful part lies in those mountains to the north, the eastern end of the massive northern section of McDowell Sonoran Preserve that is my favorite and which played a big part in my wanting to move here (I hike most in the middle). Behind me a ways is my other favorite part of the park, linking them is a narrow strip where I haven’t done much hiking.

A few days ago while walking Bear down this road I noticed a trail at the end leading into the desert, grabbing my hiking app sure enough it was a neighborhood trail into that little strip of the preserve, so Bear and I have started exploring this little area while I’m off for a week at the end of the year.